Monday, August 29, 2011

Rough Beasts In Eden

The gorilla's teeth represent a high-water mark. Natural history illustration will be feeling that blow for some time to come. Illustration by Earle and Bonnie Snellenberger, copyright 2001 by Ken Ham, from Dinosaurs Of Eden.

Dinosaurs Of Eden is a children's book by Ken Ham. He is a young-Earth creationist, and his work is everything you could ever ask from a young-Earth creationist educational dinosaur book. If you're curious, I've got got a post concerning it over on my blog.

Oh, and the lemons? It's not stated specifically, but my guess is that in Eden, lemons were sweet. Which suggests that Ham believes that quinces were likewise edible -- but what do you suppose his position on pine cones is? I'll bet it's something surprising!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Comment Moderation Moderated :P

Given the recent hot topics we've been hosting this month there's been a lot of discussion. Sadly for non-members their comments have been getting caught up in our moderation. As we haven't had any spam for a while, we're once again going to try limiting comment moderation on ART Evolved to older posts.

So enjoy free commenting everyone! (With a warning if we start getting spammed again this moderation could go back up...)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Philosofossilising- Is it Science or Art?

This is a reply to the question:

Just how important is scientific accuracy in Palaeo-art? Is palaeontology, and by association those who follow the technical side of the science, becoming too judgemental towards the artistic efforts of palaeo-artists?

This is an individual opinion on this topic. To read a number of different peoples' answer to this question click this link here. If you have your own answer, read the last paragraph of this post for details on how to get yours posted on ART Evolved.

This post is brought to us by guest contributor Taylor Reints of the blog Beasts Evolved.

I've never really discussed palaeoart, or paleoart, which is the art (or science) of reconstructing, restoring, drawing, sculpting, painting and even animating prehistoric creatures before. We do know, however, that paleoart is restoring prehistory, but its a subdivision of... what? Art... science... paleontology - all of these come to mind. Is paleoart science or is it art?

Science or Art?

The amount of scientific involvement, paleoart's necessities and criteria are all discussed here. It seems that paleoart is a type of science and should be more like that, being cut to the scientific edge of correctness and accuracy. When paleoart is associated with art, usually there is more inferred speculation or even just some fantasy drawings. I'm a believer in science-paleoart, for without science and paleontology what is it?

Speculation in appearance, behavior and even coloration needs to take serious consideration into the science-art of paleoart. Without accuracy, what would the purpose of paleoart even be? This reminds me of Andrea Cau's wonderful ten commandments of paleoart:

I - Science is the source of paleoart.
II - Thou shalt have no other reference to the outside of the living creatures, because they represent the first extinct animals, you must be able to represent existing.
III - Thou shalt not make any idol, model or inspiration from the past or living paleoartist, because only nature is your inspiration.
IV - Do not call a work "Paleoart" in vain
V - Honor the anatomy and ecology
VI - Do not plagiarize
VII - Do not create mythology
VIII - Do not create false reconstruction
IX - You shall not covet other technique
X - not the desire to impress others

It is important paleoart is not biased towards art, for what is the reconstruction without science? Stu Pond of Paleo Illustrata wrote an excellent post in April about the purpose of and what is paleoart. Two commandments surprised him, as well as many other people,

VII - Do not create mythology
VIII - Do not create false reconstruction

Mythology refers to inferring behavior and extra ornamentation. Reconstructed behavior, in my opinion, is fine and adds pizzazz to a paleoartistic piece. "False reconstruction"... you wouldn't place an Iguanodon and Coelophysis coexisting in a grassy field, right? That's the thing being described here.


There should be much scientific involvement in restoring a prehistoric animal. All of reality should go into it, in my personal opinion. There are various differentiations in this term's definition from artist-to-artist. I just like restoring animals with a white background, not guessing or inferring a lot. However, behavior can be inferred, coloration can, ornamentation... As long as its not too extravagant.

Taylor Reints- Coauthor of Beasts Evolved

ART Evolved is very interested in other opinions on this topic, and would welcome your answer to this question. If you would like to enter an article on "Just how important is scientific accuracy in Palaeo-art? ", please read the brief criteria here, and send your essay to

Philosofossilising - Setting Criteria, Drawing the Line (David)

To start off with, everyone is right and everyone has the right. Scientists are spending great efforts at their own cost on outreach projects to educate a Hollywood-brained general audience, enthusiastic bloggers are blithefully propagating the f*cking awesomeness of dinosaurs, including the flying ones, and artists are duefully filling the full pallette of niches from bone transcriptions to viking-ridden, frothing-at-the-mouth theropods. Everyone has the right and nothing is being forbidden. Animated series are announced with Sin-City press posters and theropods pruned by the scissors of budget efficiency and yeah - its all in good spirit. No body is proposing a prohibition of featherless raptors. But the cooler the medium the more convinced will be the generations that come, and the more futile the efforts of the scientists that consulted the film that - hey, they did have feathers and they belong within a lineage that includes the ancestors of our modern birds.

Apologies & Accomodations

Craig pleads for leniency, Glendon defends the freedoms of paleoart from tut-tutting scientists and Pete also seems to be excusing inaccuracies. At the risk of sounding harsh: why? Why should artistic license have such priority over hard-earned, tested and double-tested knowledge of likelihood and probability? Why should those of us interested in taking the long road to understanding and communicating the riddling complexities and inconsistencies, the fascination of interlinked ecosystems and 3rd or 4th level deduction of probabilities be extra accommodating to those whose interests don't go much beyond a kick-ass T-Rex?

I'm more than willing to accept the issue as a matter of wording: I'll happily surrender the term paleoart to a realm of anything-goes artistic freedom. Or at least part of me would... the other part of me recognizes how long the battle would be to establish whatever new term then stands for the same thing in the minds of a public disinterested in differentiations and shades of gray. But okay - I'm willing to talk palaeontography (explain that to your grandma) or paleo-illustration. But I suspect this path leads to an elitist ghetto of those in the know talking down to the enthusiastic plebes.

The goal has to be to transfer the kick-assedness from the brand names of roaring T-rexes and rearing sauropods to the encompassing processes of knowledge and respect. An uphill path, but the only one that leads to an inclusion of the masses on a basis of shared knowledge. All the downhill paths lead to frustrated enclaves and endless diaper-changes - poo-pooing the stubborn, and yes - talking down to people because they're simply not interested in the basic premise of paleontology. Dinosaurs are not organic Transformers. They were not created to sell merchandise or satisfy your creative urge. Being a dinosaur freak obliges one to a passion about the natural sciences as a whole, and ultimately to a respect for the systems within the planet we live on. Point.

Webster says...

Peter referenced ‘accuracy’ as meaning “the condition or quality of being true, correct, or exact; freedom from error or defect.” More or less an absolute state, as there is no perfection in the real world. Interestingly, plausibility is defined as having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable. The definition is all shades of gray, reeking of questioned authority: well-spoken and apparently, but often deceptively, worthy of confidence or trust: a plausible commentator.

That actually appeals to me... we're creating images that are worthy of trust but not above questioning, and ultimately, knowingly wrong. New discoveries will prove them so, but the images will still be admired as historical documents and
- if we manage to climb to the heights of the form, still ooze fascination.

NEWS FLASH - Pixar Dinosaur Movie Announced

This just in (two days ago):  Pixar has announced it's next four movies - Brave, Monster University, an Untitled Pixar Film about Dinosaurs, and an Untitled Pixar Film that Takes Place in Your Mind!

They specifically say,

"What if the cataclysmic asteroid that forever changed life on Earth actually missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? This hilarious, heartfelt and original tale is directed by Bob Peterson (co-director/writer, "Up;" writer, "Finding Nemo") and produced by John Walker ("The Incredibles," "The Iron Giant")."

Cool, right?  Let's hope it's similar to the first 5 minutes of Disney's Dinosaur (2000)...


Also, Ted Moskovich has created this homage to Allan Grant's speech from Jurassic Park!

Raptor from Tal Moskovich on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Philosofossilising- Scientific Accuracy in Art (Peter)

This is an individual opinion on this topic. To read a number of different peoples' answer to this question click this link here. If you have your own answer, read the last paragraph of this post for details on how to get yours posted.

There is no such thing as ‘scientific accuracy’ in paleoart.

“My raptors has larger feathers on it’s arms, so it is sooo much more accurate than your feathered raptor!”

We’ve heard this before.   

But consider this. defines ‘accuracy’ as “the condition or quality of being true, correct, or exact; freedom from error or defect.”   

The wonderful creatures that paleoartists reconstruct are unfortunately often extinct, leaving us unable to ever really know exactly what these critters looked like when alive.  We will never know exactly what colour scales dinosaurs had, what their mating behaviours were, or how fluffy a velociraptor’s coat was…   

It is really disappointing to realize that we will never know exactly how these creatures looked and behaved.  We will never know what is true, correct or exact.  Unless time travel becomes possible (I’m working on it), we will never know that truth.  As artists, our reconstructions will never be free from error or defect.  This is just the reality we must accept.  It's too bad, your paleoart will never be scientifically accurate.

What we as paleoartists can do is work towards a ‘temporal accuracy’ – the condition of being as true, as correct, or as exact as the current scientific research shows.  This is not striving for absolute correctness, because absolute correctness is impossible.  It is to strive to be as correct as current popular science dictates. 

This means that now in 2011, it is temporally accurate for all duckbilled hardosaurs to walk with its tail off the ground.  It also means that in 1905, Charles Knight’s tail-dragging Trachodon is also temporally accurate.  In Knight’s time, the upright pose (and even the name) was scientifically accepted as true.

 (from wikipedia)

And what of our young artists bickering over whose art is more scientifically accurate?  Well, neither is.  As we will sadly never know what is actually absolutely accurate, these artists have to accept that they are both temporally accurate. 

So stop bickering, do your homework, and make some art.  With the Internet connecting the billions, there is no better time to take part and join in the fun.

ART Evolved is very interested in other opinions on this topic, and would welcome your input.  If you would like to submit an article about Scientific Accuracy in Art, please read the brief introduction here, and send your essay to

Friday, August 19, 2011

Philosofossilising- Scientific Accuracy in Art

Dinosaur Revolution artist Pete Von Sholly has had enough of the uninformed preemptive criticism that the show has been taking a month before the full program airs. You can read his "rants" (more like very restrained polite counters to the nay saying) here, here, and here.

By Pete Von Sholly

This is just the latest criticism against artists by scientific "purists" I have noticed going on around the web lately. While the majority have been against "amateur" artists, seeing it now extending to professionals I think this is a very interesting and important topic we examine on this site.

What do you think? Is palaeontology, and by association those who follow the technical side of the science, becoming too judgemental towards the artistic efforts of palaeo-artists?

While it can be agreed that many artistic reconstructions often include many inaccuracies (some well known, others contained only in technical articles), how certain are we that our current understanding is absolute? Is the line between accuracy and inaccuracy as black and white as it is conveyed by advocates of the technical literature. Or is accuracy merely a probability drawn from our current understanding, and that this probability could easily dwindle with future research and discovery (just as our old understandings of the past 150 years have?). So how accurate is palaeontologic accuracy (or for that matter palaeontologic inaccuracy)?

So expect some posts, and hopefully a series of ARTicles about this issue. We would very much like to read your thoughts on this topic. If you would like to write an essay to be seen on ART Evolved, but aren't a member of this site let us know at, and we'll make it happen!

Above all definitely let us know your thoughts in the comment sections of this post, and future ARTicles on this issue.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Person's Race!

So this afternoon, I got out my ArtBin, threw a couple episodes of Science... Sort Of on the 'pod, and drew these:

Preliminary sketches. Part of me wanted to go with greyhound/horse racing inspired imagery and the other part could not leave the Boston Marathon alone. (If nothing else, I love, love, love the marathon logo.)

The second requested illustration. Doing the research for this, I learned that the default photograph of racing animals is to show one just tearing out in front of everyone else.

And the hadrosaur triumphant. Good luck to everyone involved! This was wikkid fun!

The Lights are going on!

Over on Weapon of Mass Imagination I am currently taking on 3D lighting in all its glory and fury... It is a part of my CG art I've never really tackled seriously before, and I'm learning some interesting (and hard) lessons.

I'm engaged in a rather large (and some have rightfully claimed ambitious) attempt to break down 3D lighting to all its various isolated elements and catalogue what each can do. You can visit my current breakdown of ambient lighting here. Other variables of lighting are coming soon.

I've also made some amusing mistakes. Check out the rather silly and sci-fi blooper I got from trying to light this Gorgosaurus here.

There really isn't much point to learning 3D lighting if I have nothing to use it on. So follow my efforts to build up the following scene above from the ground up (quite literally). I'd love feedback on my somewhat unorthodox choice of Dinosaur social behaviour.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Next Gallery Poll is up

Hey there palaeo-artists, just a heads up that the poll for our November gallery is up on the right side bar. Make sure to choose your favourite possible gallery themes (you can select multiple choices!).

Also a quick reminder about the Turtle gallery coming up here in September!

If you're new to the site, we accept any and all artwork submitted that is themed around any of our gallery topics. Just send your submission(s), along with any accompanying text you'd like with them, and the link to your website/blog/online picture gallery to our email, and we'll post them!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Persons' race

I've joined this challenge... put some paints up at and thought I'd share the two half-way finished ones here. Would love to see what others are doing!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Call for Conference Art

Ever wanted to get your work seen by a whole room full of palaeontologists? Well ART Evolved's old friend Scott Persons might just have an offer for you.

Scott will be doing a presentation at the 2011 Hadrosaur Symposium at the Royal Tyrrell Museum this September, and he is looking for some art to help liven up his talk.

We can't go into too much detail on Scott's research before his talk, but we can say it involves comparing Hadrosaurs' running abilities to Tyrannosaurs'. You'll no doubt be able to figure out Scott's conclusions none the less from his art requests (but you'll have to wait for the details later).

To add some interest and humour to his talk, Scott wishes to have an illustrated race between a duckbill and Tyrannosaur (genera and species are up to you). If you wish to anthropomorphize the Dinosaurs and the race, feel free to do so, as Scott has requested accessories like running shoes, leg warmers, and running gear.

For his talk he wishes to have the following three pictures:

1. A hadrosaur and a tyrannosaur at the starting line of the race with human referee to officiate.

2. The human referee firing the starting pistol to begin the race, and the tyrannosaurs leaving the hadrosaur in the dust.

3. A picture of the race after it has gone on for a while, with the hadrosaur triumphantly busting through the finish line and an exhausted tyrannosaur plodding up behind.

He has requested the finals be in colour, but beyond that you are free to experiment with style and format.

Now for the business details of this request. Scott can not offer payment for this artwork, and as of such artist's are warned right away this is non-negotiable. You'll be required to give Scott permission to, obviously, use these pieces in his talk, but he also hopes for future use in press releases if they should materialize about this research. We leave the exact details of these permissions to be between submitting artists and Scott. If your work is selected by Scott it will be seen by many of the world's top scientists at the biggest Dinosaur specific conference of this year, and possibly many more if and when they are used in a press release.

If you are interested, submit a single completed piece from the three requested, and Scott will choose from these his final artist (who will then complete the two other needed cartoons). As the conference is in just under two months, the submission deadline will be September. 1st, and Scott will need all three completed pieces by September. 20th.

Send submissions to Scott at

Let the race begin, and good luck to all applicants!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hurry, hurry! An Ornithopod on the beach!!!

Paleoart doesn't go on vacation.
Three mounths ago, my friend Giorgio Faggiano realized this Ornithopod-like sand sculpture, on an italian beach. A brilliant idea, well implemented. Do you agree to that?

Giorgio is also a great amateur-paleoartist. This year, he partecipated to the CIID 2011 with this beautiful illustration of Miragaia longicollum.

Check his DeviantART gallery at this link:

Join the orgy, but scribble responsibly

Andrea Cau lashes out at the orgy of amateur artists doing dinosaurs...
I'd say he's largely right. My thoughts here...